Berwick : New group attempts to plug Mental Health Matters gap

> Another encouraging example of grassroots action…

A new group is providing a day centre in Berwick for people with mental health problems after a charity previously running the service pulled out.

Newly-formed peer support group Northern Spirit was set up after a day centre service run by Mental Health Matters was abruptly withdrawn from the town, leaving many people who suffer various forms of mental health issues without this much needed retreat.

Run by a handful of volunteers, the group provides a day centre each Wednesday (10am-4pm) at Wallace Green for those suffering from health problems like depression and anxiety issues.

Around 15-20 people attend per week, and any new members are welcome.

“Our aim is to provide a similar service to those individuals that have been left without this vital retreat from daily life,” explained group secretary Andrew Bird.

“We are currently open one day per week but we hope to be able to increase this to at least two days in the future.”

With just one week’s notice that Mental Health Matters was withdrawing from the town, a group of volunteers scrambled to ensure that vital provision would continue.

“My father attends the group on the basis that he has mental health issues, and he has taken the role of chairman and treasurer,” Andrew said.

“I know how he felt about it being disbanded. I know how much it was affecting him and I had met a couple of other members and saw how they were trying to deal with it.

“We set up the group to continue the day centre and to show sufferers that there are still people out there that do care.

“We did not have anybody with any experience other than the fact that we have dealt with mental health issues, but now we have a fully trained councillor on board. She has volunteered and will be available at the centre for people to talk to.”

Northern Spirit is now trying to source vital funding to ensure it can continue to help people from north Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.

We are a non-profit organisation and rely solely on income from donations and fund raising,” Andrew said.

“As with all organisations like ours we unfortunately have overheads, such as rental of the premises which costs £1500 every six months, and at present we need to raise funds to continue the service past the six month we have already managed to secure the funds for.”

If anyone has any fundraising ideas that could help, or would like to know more about Northern Spirit, go to northernspiritberwick.weebly.com or facebook.com/northernspiritberwick

Source – Berwick Advertiser,  21 Feb 2015

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